Flag Football Rules
Intramural flag football games will be conducted under the rules of the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Flag & Touch Football Rules Book- with the following modifications:
1. The Players
a) The game shall be played between 2 teams of 7 players each. Five players are required to begin a game.
- Co-Rec: The game shall be played between 2 teams of 8 players each, 4 men and 4 women. Six players are required to avoid a forfeit. Teams with 7 players shall be 4 men and 3 women or 4 women and 3 men. Six players, 3 men and 3 women, 4 men and 2 women, or 4 women and 2 men, are required to start the game and avoid a forfeit.
b) If, due to injuries, a team drops below the minimum number of players (5/6) it may continue if the Referee feels they still have a chance to win.
c) All students, faculty or staff can participate provided they meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the Intramural Participants Handbook. Players may only play for one team in each league.
d) Each team member is responsible for checking in with the scorekeeper/head official and must show his/her current MSU ID before being allowed to play All participants must present their valid MSU ID – NO EXCEPTIONS!!
Players must add their names to the roster the day of their teams’ game by showing their MDU ID to the scorekeeper/Head official in order to be eligible for competition that night. Individuals must be listed on a team’s roster before they participate. Players may be added anytime before game time. All players listed must meet eligibility requirements.
3. Persons Subject to the Rules
Team representatives including: players, substitutes, replaced players, coaches, fans and other persons affiliated with the team are subject to the rules of the game and shall be governed by decisions of officials assigned to the game.
All games will be played at Munn Fields located off Shaw Lane, south of Munn Arena OR played at IM East Fields located off Shaw Lane, east of the Wharton Center.
5. Team Captains
Each team shall designate to the Referee a player as the field captain. This person is the only player who can communicate with the officials. The captain’s first choice of any penalty option shall be irrevocable. The captain is responsible for any information contained in the Intramural Flag Football Rules, IM Participant Handbook, and Sportsmanship Policy.
- Markings - The field shall be a rectangular area 100 yards x 40 yards with the following markings: respective lines to gain (1st down) for each team in order are the 20, 40, and 20. Hash marks will be drawn parallel to each sideline located 15 yards into the field from each sideline. There will be marks at the 3, 10, and 14 yard lines.
- Inbound/Out of Bounds – Any portion of the sidelines, or end lines, is considered out of bounds. All areas inside the sidelines and end lines is considered inbounds. The entire width of each goal line shall be part of the end zone.
- Team Areas - Players, coaches, and fans shall stay between the 20-yard lines at all times. Repeated warnings about this rule will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
- The Ball - The official ball shall be leather or rubber covered and shall meet the recommendations of size and shape for a regulation football. There are no requirements regarding ball pressure and markings. Men shall use the regular size ball only. The regular, intermediate, youth, or junior size ball shall be used for Women's and Co-Rec games.
- Flag Belt - Each player must wear a one piece belt that is free of any knots clipped at the waist line with three flags permanently attached, one flag on each side and one at the center of the back. Flags shall be of contrasting color to team jerseys and also their opponent’s flags. Flags will be checked out to each team on site with an MSU ID. Shirts must be tucked in and flag belts must be worn on the outside of all clothing!
- Team Jerseys - Teams shall wear shirts that are of the same color. Team jerseys must contrast with the jerseys of the opposing team. If teams are wearing the same color jersey, the official shall flip a coin to determine who will change. Jerseys may not be tied in a manner that creates any type of knot. Jerseys must NOT have excessively large sleeve holes.
- Shorts/Pants – Shorts or pants must NOT have any pockets or holes.
- Shoes - Players must wear shoes, either soft soled soccer/football cleats, tennis, or Astroturf shoes. No sandals, boots, or metal/sharp plastic cleats will be allowed. No screw in or detachable cleats will be allowed.
- Supports, Braces, Gloves, and Pads - No casts/splints will be allowed under any circumstances. No pads or braces will be allowed above the waist. Players who wear a knee brace with exposed metal or metal hinges are required to cover it with at least ½ inch of closed cell slow recovery rubber or other material of the same minimum thickness and physical properties. Players may also wear gloves, which consist of a soft, pliable non-abrasive material. Kneepads of a soft pliable nature will be allowed below the waist. Any player wearing illegal or dangerous equipment shall not be permitted to play. All equipment shall be subject to the approval of the IM Officials/staff and their decisions shall be final.
- Headwear - Players may wear a one-piece elastic headband made of a soft pliable material. They may also wear knit stocking caps in cold weather. Rubber or elastic cloth bands may be used to control hair. No other headwear will be allowed. No baseball caps, bandannas (including "Do-rags") or helmets.
- Jewelry - Jewelry or hard hair control devices will not be allowed. This includes but is not limited to necklaces, earrings, newly pierced earrings, facial piercing, rings, bracelets & watches. Individuals will not be allowed to tape over any jewelry item. If you cannot remove the item you cannot play. Medical bracelets will be allowed pending approval from IM officials/staff.
- Length of Game - A legal game shall consist of 2 halves of 20 minutes with the clock stopping the last two minutes of each half and for all timeouts. Teams receive two 1 minute time outs per game. Half time shall be 5 minutes. If the score is tied after the two halves, overtime shall be played.
- Coin Toss - The Referee shall toss a coin and offer the winning Captain these options:
- To defer his/her option until the second half.
- To receive the ball first or play defense first.
- To defend a specific goal.
- At the start of the second half, the loser of the first half coin toss shall have his/her option to be on offense or defense, or which goal to defend, unless the first half winner deferred his/her selection.
- Mercy Rule - At 2 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, or any time thereafter, if a team is 19 or more points ahead, the mercy rule will be in effect and the game shall end.
- Co-Rec: Mercy rule comes into effect when a team is 25 or more points ahead when there are 2 minutes or less left in the fourth quarter.
- Overtime Procedure - In case of a game ending with a tie score, the officials will bring both captains to the center of the field to explain the overtime procedure.
- There will be only one coin toss. The winner of the toss shall be given options of offense, defense, or direction. The loser of the toss shall make a choice of the remaining options.
- Both teams will go the same direction in overtime.
- Each team will be given a series of downs (4 downs) from the 10-yard line. The object is to score a touchdown.
- If the first team which is awarded the ball scores, the second team will still have a series of downs to attempt to win the game.
- Try for points will still be attempted in a normal manner by any team who scores a touchdown.
- If the defense intercepts the ball and returns it for a touchdown they will win the game. (If intercepted on a try the ball is declared dead.)
- If they do not return the interception for a touchdown, the ball will be placed at the 10-yard line to begin their series of downs.
- If the score is tied after both teams have had their series of downs, the process will be repeated.
- However, the team that went second will now go first and the team that went first will now go second.
- The teams will rotate positions until a winner is declared.
- Each team is entitled to 1 timeout only during the entire overtime.
- Time-outs - Each team is allowed 2 one-minute time-outs per game.
- Substitutions - Players may substitute at any time between downs. There shall be no limit to the number of substitutes.
- Substitutes must be within 15 yards of the ball before the play starts. Penalty: Illegal Substitution, 5 yards.
- Substitutes shall be ready for play and cause no delay in the game. Penalty: Delay of Game, 5 yards.
- Ball in Play - The offense must snap the ball within 25 seconds after the Referee has blown the whistle to put the ball in play. Penalty: Delay of Game, 5 yards.
- Dead Ball - A live ball becomes dead as provided in the rules, or when an official sounds the whistle, or otherwise declares the ball dead. The ball is declared dead when:
- It goes out of bounds.
- Any part of the runner’s person other than hand or foot touches the ground. Ball in possession is considered part of the hand.
- A touchdown, touchback, safety, or successful try-for-point is made.
- Any punt comes to rest on the ground and no player attempts to secure it.
- A forward pass strikes the ground or is caught simultaneously by opposing players.
- A backward pass or fumble by a player strikes the ground, or is caught simultaneously by opposing players.
- A ball snapped from scrimmage, or other backward pass, that hits the ground before or after getting to the intended receiver, is dead at the spot where it hits the ground.
- A forward pass is legally completed, or a loose ball is caught by a player on, above or behind the opponent’s goal line.
- A runner has a flag belt removed legally by a defensive player. A flag belt is removed when the clip is detached from the belt.
- A runner is legally touched with one hand between the shoulders and the knees, if the flag has legally fallen off the runner.
- A passer is de-flagged before releasing the ball.
- A muff of a protected scrimmage kick strikes the ground.
- The official sounds the whistle inadvertently during a down.
- Result: Team in possession at time of whistle may choose to take the play from the spot of the ball at the whistle or replay the down.
- Note: Any penalties that occur during this down will be accepted or declined.
- A ball in player possession is out-of-bounds when the runner or the ball touches the ground or anything else which is on or outside a boundary line, except a player or game official.
- If the inbounds runner is touched by a player or an official on the sidelines out-of-bounds, the ball is still in play.
- A loose ball is out-of-bounds when it touches the ground, a player, or anything else, which is on or outside a boundary line.
- A player who is catching a forward pass is considered out-of-bounds when any part of his/her person contacts that area declared out-of-bounds. One foot is needed inbounds for a legal reception.
- Number of Downs - The team in possession of the ball shall have four consecutive downs to advance to the next zone line-to-gain. A new series of downs shall be awarded when a team moves the ball into the next zone.
- Line to Gain - The zone line-to-gain in any series shall be the zone in advance of the ball, unless the distance has been lost due to penalty or failure to gain. In such case, the original zone in advance of the ball at the beginning of the series of downs is the zone line-to-gain. The most forward point of the ball, when declared dead between the goal lines, shall be the determining factor if a line to gain has been achieved.
- Free Kick - There will be no free kick to start the game or the second half. The ball will be put in play at the 14-yard line to begin each half and after each touchdown.
PROTECTED SCRIMMAGE KICK (PUNT)
- Decision to Punt - Prior to making the ball ready for play on fourth down, the Referee will ask the offensive captain if he/she wants a protected scrimmage kick (Punt). The Referee will then communicate this decision to the defensive team captain. The offense may request a punt on any down. After such announcement, the ball must be kicked.
1) A team time-out is called
2) A penalty occurs anytime during this down which results in the right of the kicking team to repeat the down again.
3) The Referee must then again ask the offensive captain whether he/she wants a punt.
- Formation - Neither the kicking team nor the receiving team may advance beyond their respective scrimmage lines until the ball is kicked. After receiving the snap, the kicker must immediately kick and in a continuous motion.
- Recovery - If a punt touches a player on either team and then hits the ground it is dead and belongs to receiving team. If a punt hits a receiving player, and is then caught in the air by the receiving team, it can be advanced. If a punt hits a receiving player, and is caught in the air by the kicking team, it belongs to the kicking team at that spot. If the receiving team catches a punt and then fumbles, and the kicking team catches the fumble in the air before it hits the ground it can be advanced by the kicking team.
- Out of Bounds and Ball at Rest - If a punted ball goes out of bounds anytime before being touched, or comes to rest between the goal lines, it shall belong to the receiving team at that spot. If the ball goes into the end-zone it may be taken as a touchback and put in play at the receiving team’s 14-yard line or the receiving team may advance it out of the end-zone.
KICK CATCH INTERFERENCE, FIRST TOUCHING, FAIR CATCH
- Kick Catch Interference - No member of kicking team may interfere with the ability of the receiving team to catch a protected scrimmage kick. This includes anytime the kicking team touches the ball or any receiving player while the ball is in flight. Penalty: Kick Catch Interference. The receiving team may take the ball at the spot of the foul, or accept a 10-yard penalty from previous spot and replay the down.
- First Touching (ball not in flight) - If any member of kicking team touches the kicked ball first, after it crosses the line of scrimmage, it is referred to as first touching and the receiving team may take the ball at that spot or at the spot determined by the action that follows first touching. The receiving team loses the right to take the spot of first touching if during the return a foul is committed by the receiving team, or any penalty is accepted by the receiving team.
- Fair Catch - NO FAIR CATCH. There are no signals, fair catch or otherwise, during kicks. Penalty: Unfair Act, Live Ball Foul, 10 yards.
THE SCRIMMAGE AND SNAP
- The Snap - The snapper shall pass the ball back from its position on the ground with a quick and continuous motion of the hands. They do not have to pass the ball between the legs.
- Following the ready for play signal, no defensive player may break the plane of the restraining line at any time until the ball is snapped. Penalty: Dead Ball Foul, Encroachment, 5 yards. If this occurs twice in same dead ball interval, the penalty will be 10 yards for the second encroachment foul, if accepted.
- No offensive player shall make a false start, or any action that simulates the start of play. This penalty may be enforced regardless if the ball is snapped. Penalty: Dead Ball Foul, Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.
- The snapper must have both feet behind the scrimmage line. They may not simulate the start of the snap. Penalty: Dead Ball Foul, Illegal Procedure, yards.
- The player receiving the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the scrimmage line at the time of the snap. Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.
- Legal Positions - All players are subject to motion, position, and illegal procedure rules.
- Anytime at or after the ball is ready for play, each Team A player must momentarily be within 15 yards of the ball before the snap. Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.
- During the snap, the offense must have at least 4 (5 Co-Rec) players on their scrimmage line. Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards.
- Two, three, and four point stances are legal.
- One offensive player may be in motion, but not in motion toward the opponent’s goal line at the snap. Penalty: Illegal Motion, 5 yards.
- Following a huddle or shift, all offensive players must come to a complete stop and remain stationary for one full second before the snap. Penalty: Illegal Shift, 5 yards.
- After the Play - Offensive players are responsible for retrieving the ball after the scrimmage down. The snapper will bring the ball from the huddle to the scrimmage line.
HANDING THE BALL
- Any player may hand the ball forward or backward at any time.
- Co-Rec: A male runner cannot advance the ball through A’s scrimmage line. Penalty: Illegal Advancement, 5 yards from the previous spot.
PASSING AND RECEIVING
- Legal and Illegal Forward Passing - All players are eligible to touch or catch a forward pass. Only ONE forward pass may be thrown per down. A forward pass is Illegal:
- if either of the passer’s feet are beyond the offensive line of scrimmage when the ball leaves his/her hand;
- if thrown after team possession has changed during the down;
- if intentionally grounded to save loss of yardage;
- if a passer catches his/her untouched forward pass;
- if there is more than one forward pass per down.
- Open-Closed Plays (Co-Rec Only). During the offensive team's possession, there may not be 2 consecutive legal forward pass completions, from a male passer to a male receiver. A male may never run the ball past the line of scrimmage.
- During an "open" play, any combination of passers or receivers, or runners may advance the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.
- After a male-to-male completion, the play becomes "closed". This rule also applies to the try for point.
- During a "closed" play, the play must involve a female passer or a female receiver.
- The spot where the ball becomes dead, by rule, must be beyond the scrimmage line.
- There are no other restrictions concerning a male passer completing legal forward passes to a female receiver, or female to female, or female to male.
Pass Penalty: Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards from the spot where the second consecutive male-to-male completed legal forward pass is released, and a loss of down. Any foul, whether accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next legal forward pass completion is "open" or "closed"
Run Penalty: A male may not advance the ball by running across the line of scrimmage. Penalty: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot, replay the down. Any foul, whether accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next play is "open" or "closed".
- Backward Pass and Fumble -
- A runner may pass the ball backward at anytime.
- A backward pass or fumble may be caught or intercepted in flight inbounds by any player and advanced.
- A backward pass or fumble which goes out of bounds between the goal lines belongs to the team last in possession at the out of bounds spot.
- A backward pass or fumble which touches the ground between the goal lines is down at the spot where it touches the ground and belongs to the team last in possession unless lost on downs.
- A backward pass or fumble by the offense that first hits the ground in
- the team’s own end-zone is a safety, or
- the opponent’s end-zone is a touchback.
- Pass Interference - Intramural Football is NOT a CONTACT sport, however, incidental contact will occur.
- Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards from the previous spot and loss of down. Note: Offensive screen blocking beyond the line of scrimmage DURING a pass attempt is considered Offensive Pass Interference.
- Defensive Pass Interference, 10 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down. Note: If contact is made on a receiver behind the line of scrimmage during a pass attempt, the penalty is Illegal Contact, not Defensive Pass Interference.
- In a. and b. above, pass interference is defined as bumping, pushing, or unnecessary contact with an opponent OR restricting a player from access to a pass while on offense or defense OR hindering an opponent’s vision without making an attempt to catch, intercept or bat the ball is pass interference, even though no contact was made.
- Players may NOT "go through opponents" to get to a ball that is in flight. This could result in automatic ejection from the game.
- General Information -
- A pass is any exchange of the ball that involves airtime. This can be a forward or backward, overhand pass, underhand pitch, or any other toss or flip of the ball.
- The pass begins when the ball is released from the passer’s hand. The ball is dead if the passer is de-flagged before the release.
- The initial direction of a pass determines whether a pass is forward or backward.
- If a forward or backward pass is caught simultaneously by opposing players, the ball becomes dead, is considered a completed pass, and belongs to the offensive team.
- Touchdown - (Co-Rec) If a female scores a touchdown, receiving or throwing a pass or running across the goal line, the point value is 9. All other touchdowns are 6 points.
- Try-for-point (extra point) - Ball in play from the 3 yard line = 1 point
Ball in play from the 10 yard line = 2 points, Ball in play from the 20 yd line = 3 points
Note: An intercepted pass or fumble during the try cannot be returned for a touchdown. The try is over when the defense secures possession, the try is successful, or the ball becomes dead by rule.
- Safety - When a safety is scored (2 points) the ball belongs to the scoring team at their own 14-yard line.
- General Information - After any score, the ball shall be placed in play at the opposing team’s 14-yard line, unless moved by penalty
- To be ruled a touchdown; the ball must be on or over the goal line.
- The player scoring the touchdown must raise his/her arms so the nearest official can de-flag the player. If the official determines the flag belt has been secured illegally, the touchdown will be disallowed. Penalty: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, player automatically disqualified from the game, 10 yards from the previous spot.
- Once the captain makes the choice for one, two, or three points after a touchdown, he/she may change the decision only after an offensive or defensive charged team time-out.
- A team, which intercepts a pass in its own end zone, may advance the ball out of the end zone. It is a touchback if the interceptor is de-flagged before leaving his/her end zone.
- PERSONAL FOULS - No player, substitute, or coach shall commit a personal foul. Personal fouls may include but are not limited to:
- Using fist, foot, knee, or leg to contact an opponent.
- Tackling the ball carrier (automatic ejection).
- Steal, attempt to steal or strip, or bat the ball from a player in possession.
- Illegal Contact.
- Hurdling a player, tripping, clipping, etc.
- Unnecessary roughness.
- Touching a player or ball carrier with undo force.
- Roughing the passer (automatic first down) - applies only to the player throwing a legal forward pass behind the offensive line of scrimmage. If a defender contacts the passer in any fashion, whether or not he/she touches the pass, it is roughing the passer. Penalty: All of the above (a-h): Personal Foul, 10 yards, flagrant offenders will be disqualified.
- The runner may not -
- Be aided by a teammate (grabbed, pushed, or pulled).
- Stiff-arm an opponent.
- Guard their flags by blocking with arms, hands, or the ball, and thereby denying an opponent the opportunity to pull or remove the flag belt. Penalty: Flag Guarding, 10 yards from the spot of the foul.
No player, substitute, coach or others subject to the Rules shall use disconcerting words or phrases or commit any act not in accordance with the spirit for the purpose of confusing the opponent. Penalty: Personal Foul, Unfair Act, 10 yards.
- Blocking, as in regulation football, is prohibited. A player may not use his/her hands or body to block or ward off an opponent. Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards.
- Offensive players may protect the runner by screening.
a) The offensive screen block shall take place without contact and the screener may maintain a position (moving or stationary) between the defensive player and the runner.
b) The screen blocker shall have his/her arms at their sides or behind their back.
c) Any use of arms, elbows, or legs to initiate contact during an offensive player’s screen block is illegal.
d) A blocker may use a hand or arm to break a fall or retain balance.
e) Player’s must remain on their feet before, during, and after screen blocking.
f) No part of the screener’s body, except their feet, may be in contact with the ground. Penalty: All of the above (a-f) Illegal Contact, 10 yards.
- Defensive players must avoid the offensive player’s screen block. Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards.
- The runner may not stiff arm or lower a shoulder into an opponent. Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards.
- Illegal contact between the blocker/rusher will be called against the player determined to have initiated contact (similar to "block/charge" in basketball). Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards. Repeated illegal contact could result in ejection from the game.
- De-flagging (removal of the flag by a player) or legal touching is allowed only under special circumstances similar to tackling in football in that players must have possession of the ball before they can be de-flagged or touched legally.
- When a runner loses his/her flag belt either accidentally, inadvertently (not removed by grabbing or pulling), or on purpose, play continues. The de-flagging reverts to a one hand tag of the runner between the shoulders and the knees.
- In circumstances where the flag belt is removed illegally, play should continue with the option of the penalty or the result of the play. Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards.
- Pulling or removing a flag belt from an offensive player without the ball or intentionally touching an offensive player without the ball is a foul. Penalty: Personal Foul, 10 yards.
- Tampering with the flag belt in any way to gain an advantage including tying, using foreign materials, or other such acts is a foul. Penalty: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 10 yards from the previous spot, loss of down, and player disqualification.
All players, coaches, and fans are expected to comply with the Sportsmanship Policy as outlined in the 2011-2012 IM Participant Handbook. Participants are expected to treat the IM staff, officials, equipment, and each another with courtesy and respect.
PENALTIES AND YARDAGE
Loss of 5 yards
1) Required equipment worn illegally at the snap
2) Delay of game (Dead Ball)
3) Eligible substitution
4) Illegal substitution
5) Punt formation and snap
6) Punting the ball
7) Encroachment (Dead Ball)
8) False start (Dead Ball)
9) Illegal snap (Dead Ball)
10) Illegal formation
11) Minimum Line Players
12) Illegal motion
13) Illegal snap within 2 yards of scrimmage line
14) Illegal shift
15) Illegal advancement (Co-Rec)
16) Intentionally throwing a backward pass or fumble out-of-bounds (Loss of down if by offence)
17) Illegal forward pass (Loss of down for offense)
18) Intentional grounding (Loss of down)
19) Illegal forward pass – 2 consecutive Male to Male Forward Pass Completions (Loss of down) (Co-Rec)
20) Illegal forward pass – Male catches pass and runs beyond the scrimmage line (Loss of down) (Co-Rec)
21) Help the runner
Loss of 10 yards
1) Illegal Player Equipment
2) Quick Punt
3) Kick Catch Interference
4) Two or more encroachment fouls during the interval between downs
5) Offensive pass interference
6) Defensive pass interference
7) Illegally secured flag belt on a touchdown (Loss of down if by offence) (Automatic first down if by defense)
8) Unsportsmanlike player conduct
9) Spiking, kicking, or throwing the ball during a dead ball
10) Unsportsmanlike conduct by players and non-players
11) Strip or attempt to strip the ball
12) Throw the runner to the ground
13) Hurdle any player
14) Contact before or after the ball is dead
15) Unnecessary contact of any nature
16) Drive or run into an opponent
17) Position upon shoulders or body of a teammate
18) Tackle the runner
19) Fight an opponent
20) Roughing the passer (Automatic first down)
21) Illegal offensive screen blocking
22) Interlocked interference
23) Defensive use of hands
24) Illegal flag belt removal
25) Guarding the flag belt
26) Stiff arm
27) Obstruct or hold the runner
28) Batting a loose ball
29) Illegal kicking
30) Illegal participation
31) Illegal substitute/replaced player
32) Pretended, unfair substitution
Disqualification Associated With Certain 10 Yard Penalties
1) Flagrant Unsportsmanlike Player Conduct
2) Flagrant Spiking, Kicking, or Throwing the Ball
3) Flagrant Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Players and Non-Players
4) Intentionally Contacting an Official
5) Flagrant Personal Fouls
6) Tackle the Runner
7) Fight an Opponent
8) Intentional Tampering with Flag Belt – (Offense loss of down)
9) Intentional Tampering with Flag Belt – (Defense automatic first down)